- Small and chic
- Can be made into a powerful PC with today's top-end components
- The ultimate LAN box in waiting
- AGP slot is a considerable plus
- Numerous value-adding features
- Extremely quiet when the FanGuardian is enabled
- Direct desktop replacement
- Can be put to a number of uses
- HyperThreading support and DDR333 support from an Intel-based chipset is pleasing
- Shuttle have added a number of accessories that can give your SFF PC an individual air
- With careful construction, you can house a number of devices. It's like a mini-TARDIS
Conclusion: Shuttle have once again proved that small-form-factor PCs don't have to be a compromise between form and performance. For all intents and purposes, the Shuttle SB51G performs in the same vein as any desktop PC featuring a DDR333-capable chipset. The scores laid down by the SB51G when paired with a Radeon 9700 Pro are competitive with any DDR setup, and not too far off those laid down by PC1066 RAMBUS. That, in my eyes at least, is remarkable when you consider that the whole ensemble isn't larger than most shoeboxes.
Another pleasing aspect is the ability to load the unit up with power-hungry components and then watch it perform flawlessly under load conditions. A Radeon 9700 Pro, 120GB hard drive, 2.8GHz CPU, and a DVD ReWriter offer food for thought for any PSU, never mind one with a rated capacity of 200w. To its credit it took them in its stride and never appeared to struggle at any time.
You need to have a little think of the order in which you install components; the limited space on offer, which cannot be helped, sometimes makes it a little difficult to see how everything will fit. Thankfully, construction is first-class throughout with no sharp edges. Features are high on SB51G's list. 3 Firewire ports, 4 usable USB2.0 ports, decent on-board sound, S/PDIF In and Out, and on-board LAN make it all-encompassing package.
The AutoFan Guardian is a sensible measure that limits the speed of the on-board CPU fan. Although the CPU became a bit hot under the cooler with it implemented, it didn't show any signs of throttling. The SETI benchmark was pretty much where I expected it to be. (...)
It looks good, is a relative doddle to setup, offers more features than most standard motherboards and is deceptively powerful when paired with leading components. The Intel i845GE chipset is, as expected, extremely stable. The support for upcoming HyperThreading-capable P4 CPUs is a nice bonus. The presence of one PCI slot is useful, too. Unless you are into extreme overclocking, you should consider a SFF PC solely on its considerable merits. Being so small, it has a number of advantages over its desktop counterparts.
Dedicated DVD/DivX/MP3 box - With the possibility of adding a DVD drive and 2 hard drives, coupled with the fan in quiet mode, you could have an impressively powerful box. TV-out is well catered for, too.
Fileserver - Strap in a couple of 120GB drives and away you go.
LAN Box - I've already demonstrated just how well it performs with a dedicated AGP card. Couple this with a TFT screen for some portable gaming nirvana.
Students' PC - A nice TFT and a Shuttle SFF PC would make the perfect setup for students suffering from a lack of space. I'd have loved one of these systems when I was a student.